The roller-coaster career of Maurice “Sugar Moe” Harris, winner of the 2002 ‘Thunderbox Heavyweight Tournament,” is riding high once again, coming off of his solid August 6 victory against IBF #15 prospect Nagy “Dominican Dynamite” Aguilera for the vacant USBA heavyweight title. Harris (24-14-2, 10 KOs), who has beaten some of the best and also lost to journeymen, out-boxed and out-worked the much younger Aguilera (16-3, 11 KOs) to earn a unanimous decision (117-111 twice, 115-113), as well as the USBA belt.
“It feels good being a champion again,” Harris said. “I’m one step closer to my dream of fighting for the world title. I’d be honored to fight one of the Klitschko brothers. They’re both strong and big. I like them a lot, personally, having worked with them in 2005 in Venice Beach (CA). That’s when I got my first tattoo. Vitaly and Wladimir are great people, but I’m on a mission right now, so we’d have to put friendships aside. It’s just business.”
“Nagy had a big first round knockout of (former world champion Oleg) Maskaev last year,” Boxing 360 Director of Boxing Bob Duffy noted. “He got knocked out by (Samuel) Peter, but he was still coming off of two impressive wins, and was rated No. 15 by the IBF. He’s a good young fighter but Maurice is the most experienced American heavyweight. He has a very good jab, experience. and now he’s confident with Boxing 360 supporting him. All of that could lead to a world heavyweight title fight. Who knows what the heavyweight division will look like next year?
“A lot of fighters near the top wait for their title shot and don’t fight too often. I don’t blame them for waiting, but we’re keeping Maurice busy, and he should be fighting again in October or November. The more active he is, especially with him as the new USBA champion, the higher up he should move in the ratings.
In 2001, Harris lost his only title shot to former world champion Chris Byrd, ironically, by 12-round decision for the USBA belt. “Winning ‘Thunder Box’ was cool but this is better because I have a belt,” Maurice commented. “I lost what I set out to do to against Chris Byrd – win a title belt — but it just wasn’t my time. Now that I’m here, though, I don’t plan on leaving very soon. I’m fighting for my family and I’m getting closer and closer to my ultimate dream.
“I’m very spiritual and Big Daddy (God) up there made this possible. I’ve proven that anything can happen if you believe in yourself, work hard, and surround yourself with good people. I learned from Mario (Boxing 360 owner Dr. Mario Yagobi) to never take no for an answer. He lifts me, instills confidence in me, in and out of the ring. We respect each other. Now, I just do my job. Mario takes care of boxing things outside the ring. He has taught me a lot.”
Duffy, a veteran boxing promoter and former NYAC boxing commissioner, appreciates the difference in the new Maurice Harris. “With all Maurice has been through during his career,” Duffy remarked, “instead of chasing opponents for him to fight, now, we’re getting calls about guys to fight him. Boxing 360 isn’t here to protect Maurice Harris, rather to keep him active, in order to position him to fulfill his dream of fighting for the world heavyweight title.”
A classic example of an underachiever for most of his 17 ½-year pro career, the reborn- Harris hopes to parlay his USBA title-winning performance into a memorable last hurrah. “I’m a serious person,” the 34-year-old New Jersey fighter concluded. “Boxing is my passion, my fulltime job; I love it to death. I’m already back working in the gym. I’m not going to stop working until I retire. I’ll never duck anybody. All it’s about is balancing my team, family and good living. I’ve seen it all and I like where I’m at right now.”